Fans Gather To Say Goodbye To A Legendary Sega Arcade

Last month, Sega announced that its Sega Ikebukuro Gigo arcade would be closing on September 20. Yesterday, fans gathered to say goodbye to the legendary game center at a ceremony Sega held to mark the end of its 28-year-run.

Out front hung a sign that read (in Japanese), “Thank you for 28 years.” Staff wore shirts with the same message, while loudspeakers played “Hotaru no Hikari” (The Light of the Firefly). Set to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” but with different lyrics, the song is commonly played in Japanese stores right before closing.

After the countdown to the arcade’s final closing, the arcade’s manager climbed atop a ladder to give a speech, recounting Sega Ikebukuro Gigo’s history. He wanted to make clear that the arcade was not shuttering due to covid-19 but rather “unavoidable circumstances.” According to Famitsu, and as Kotaku previously reported, the lease agreement ended, and the primary factor for the arcade’s closure was the building’s renovations.
“If it were in my power, I’d want to stay open forever at this location and greet the happy faces of our wonderful customers,” said the arcade manager. “Unfortunately, at this time, the way it turned out was, the arcade has closed.”
The nine-story arcade opened in July 1993 as Ikebukuro Gigo, and quickly became an area landmark. Over the years, the exterior changed, going from yellow during the 2000s to red in 2013, when the game center was rebranded Sega Ikebukuro Gigo. It was a popular test location spot for new arcade games.

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Sega, one of the most dominant forces in the industry, sold off 85 percent of its arcade business in November 2020. Last year, another landmark Sega arcade, the company’s Akihabara 2nd arcade, closed. Famous for its emblazoned escalators, the arcade did not give an official reason for closing.

The last time I was in Tokyo, before the pandemic, I went to Sega Ikebukuro Gigo. Shame I won’t get that chance again.

I don’t really understand why arcades have gone out of business altogether – in a world where more people, and generations, play video games than ever before. Sure, an arcade obviously can’t really impress with graphics etc. anymore, but it could still be a social space where you hang out with friends to play cool games – they’d just have to be structured a bit differently, and also have modern features like (even for old-school games like Galaga etc.) online leaderboards, possibly built-in streaming options so that you can show off your session to the world etc. I refuse to believe that it’s not possible anymore to successfully operate an arcade, but unfortunately I don’t have the means and money to do it myself…

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